If all had been as it should have been, Mr C and I would have been lounging on the terrace of our oceanfront room at the Turtle Bay Beach Club after an action packed Kenyan Safari. Instead we took a well deserved two day break to see the wildlife of Sowerby Bridge. We booked a lovely little Airbnb “Retreat” in a stunning location just outside of Sowerby Bridge Centre.
I took the opportunity of already being in Calderdale to test my COVID-ravaged lungs out on a hike I had wanted to take for some time. Having seen this monument high above the Calder Valley on every trip to Manchester and my two Rochdale Canal hikes, I have been itching to climb up there.
I started the walk with a short stroll to Sowerby Bridge train station, where I masked up for the brief journey to Hebden Bridge where my route commenced.
I made my way from the train station to join the Rochdale Canal, for a short walk until I came to what I thought was the correct footbridge off the canal, however I was a little early and, therefore, end up wandering around a little looking for the correct trail to follow. I found my way eventually and started my very steep ascent up through some woods, coming out at New Road, where I definitely needed to pause and catch my breath.
(The correct route here is to come off the canal at Hebble End, turn right onto Shelf Road, which becomes Palace House Road and then you will find the track leading up through the woods to New Road. For a less hairy climb you can just follow New Road up and round to the same location.)
Track up through the woods to New Road View from the top of the woods at New Road View of the Valley from the track off New Road
Once I had caught my breath I carried on straight ahead across some fields to reach and cross Horsehold lane, continuing along Pinnacle lane, where the Stoodly Pike and it’s monument soon became visible in the distance. Whilst still going gradually uphill, the going was much easier from here all the way up to the monument.
View from Pinnacle Lane View from Pinnacle Lane Stoodley Pike Monument comes into view A hawk hovering over the fields
I followed Pinnacle Lane up to its end at Kershaw Farm, where I made friends with some sheep, taking a left and then a right onto London Road.
Sheep at Kershaw Farm
I followed London Road for a time before veering off to join the Pennine way and the final climb up the Pike to the monumment.
Soodley Pike Monument Stoodly Pike Monument
Although I had seen very few people on my way so far, on reaching the final approach the way became quite busy and there were quite a few family groups and dog walkers at the top, which was VERY, VERY windy.
I walked around the monument, finally coming to a door to a dark and windy stairway leading to the gantry that spans the whole Pike. I walked all the way around, admiring the views, but did not stay too long as it was cold and windy, preferring to head down and take some shelter at the base to have my mid-walk snack.
Views from the Stoodley Pike Monument
Stoodley Pike Monument stands 121 feet (37 metres) high at the top of the 1,300 foot (400 metres) hill of the same name. Designed by local architect, James Green, it was completed in 1856 and replaced an earlier structure (built 1815) which commemorated the defeat of Napoleon. It is thought that an ancient structure marked this spot even before then.
Eventually it was time to make my way back down into Hebden. I followed a path leading South from the monument (taking a left turn from where I approached the monument along the Pennine Way (if you are following my strava track ignore the spike at the monument, the GPS threw a fit when I climbed up the monument). The track was level for some time before making a steep descent towards Mankinholes.
Here I passed some damns and mill buildings at Lumbutts before turning off and heading right at Lumbutts Road, along a track and through some more fields until I finally reached the Rochdale Canal again, some three miles away from the start of the walk.
I walked along the canal until I reached Burnt Acres Lane where the towpath was sadly blocked off due to drainage works, and here I had to leave and walk along Halifax Road until I could rejoin the canal at Stubbing Wharf in Hebden Bridge an it all the way back to the train station. I once again donned my mask and took the short journey back to Sowerby Bridge and our little retreat where a large glass of wine was waiting for me.
Hint: If taking the train to Hebden Bridge you can actually get on the canal from the bridge by the station rather than walking into Hebden as I did.